Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/15

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Introduction.

NO complete anthology of verse written by Englishmen in India has ever been compiled; and the reason is not far to seek. Those writers who have achieved distinction have won for themselves a permanent place in the records of English literature. No history of our poetry will neglect the names of Bishop Heber and of Sir Edwin Arnold. Those writers who have failed to secure such recognition have been forgotten; and their published works, no longer in circulation, have become the hobby of the bibliophile and the collector.

Three attempts have been made to rescue from neglect our English poets in India. Captain David Lester Richardson, who was on the staff of Lord William Bentinck, added, as an appendix to his Selections from the British Poets, several specimens of the poetry then produced in Bengal. This work was published in 1840. By that time the amount of this poetry was not inconsiderable; and Richardson contrived to bring together some eighteen names including his own. The specimens of the verse selected, if not of the highest order, are full of interest. This is the first anthology of Anglo-Indian poetry; and for its time it was the best. Richardson also compiled and edited The Bengal Annual, a collection of prose and verse that appeared on seven occasions; and much of the poetry of these annuals he included in his Selections from the British Poets. The work of Thomas Philip Manuel, who in 1861 published in Calcutta The Poetry of our Indian Poets, does not extend appreciably the range of Richardson's collection. The poems of this book are few in number and have been unskilfully chosen; but there are brief introductory biographies of the authors, and these are useful to the investigator. In 1868, Thomas Benson Laurence published his English Poetry in India, being biographical and critical notices of Anglo-Indian poets with copious extracts from their writings. This work ranks with that of Manuel, and is of